Sweet and sour pork (or beef)

Tangsuyuk 탕수육

If you’re going to have a party or get-together with your friends, one dish you can serve that almost everyone loves is Chinese sweet and sour pork. Koreans have their own Chinese-Korean variation of it called tangsuyuk. It’s crunchy pieces of fried pork coated in a jelly-like sweet and sour sauce filled with colorful fruits and vegetables.

This was always my #1 favorite dish when I was young, and we used to order it from restaurants as a treat on special days. Over time I became a tangsuyuk connoisseur! lol! And my satisfaction varied depending on the skill of the cook. There are a couple of important criteria for top-level tangsuyuk: a delicious sauce and super-crispy crunchy pork.

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Eventually a friend of mine in Korea showed me her secret for a crunchy batter, and it’s turned out perfectly for me ever since: solidified starch soaked in water, mixed with egg white, fried twice.

Since I learned this, I make tangsuyuk whenever I feel like it, and it always turns out crunchy crunchy and delicious. When I have a party, my guests always tell me: “This tangsuyuk is better than any restaurant!”

You can replace the pork in this recipe with beef, chicken, or even shiitake mushrooms for a vegetarian version. This video is an HD remake of an earlier video I made where I used beef, but the recipe is pretty much the same. I added less sugar this time, but if you want to make it sweeter, add ⅓ cup sugar instead of ¼ cup.

And be sure that when you fry the pork for the second time, the pork looks super-crispy to the point of becoming breakable. That way, when it’s finally mixed with the gooey sauce, it’ll stay crunchy for a long time. Your guests will be totally knocked out!

Ingredients

:

  • 1 pound pork shoulder or tenderloin, cut into 2 inch x ½ inch strips
  • ½ teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2-3 dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in cold water for 1½ hour
  • 1 cup plus ¼ cup potato starch
  • 1 large egg white
  • ⅓ cup sliced onion
  • 1 small carrot, sliced thinly
  • ⅓  English cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 2 rings of pineapple (canned or fresh), cut into halves
  • 1 small red apple, cored, and sliced into ⅓ inch thick pieces
  • ¼ cup sugar (white, brown, or turbinado sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons white or apple vinegar
  • 4 cups plus 1 teaspoon corn oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • water

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Directions (Serves 4)

  1. Combine the pork, ½ teaspoon salt, the ginger, and the ground black pepper in a bowl. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate.
  2. Mix 1 cup starch and 3 cups of water in a bowl with a spoon. Let it sit on the kitchen counter until the starch sinks to the bottom of the bowl and turns solid (about one and a half hour).
  3. Drain the mushrooms, remove the tough roots, and cut into bite size pieces.wood ear mushrooms
  4. Mix 2 tablespoons starch with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, and let it sit for later,  to thicken the sauce.
  5. Fill a deep 10 to 12 inch skillet with 4 cups of corn or vegetable oil. Heat it up over medium high heat until it reaches 330°F.
  6. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and mix with the remaining 2 tablespoons of starch.
  7. Pour out the water from the bowl of starch that was soaking. Add the egg white and mix well.
  8. Add the starch mixture to the pork. Use your hand to gently mix it in.
    sweet and sour pork (Tangsuyuk: 탕수육)
  9. Dip a piece of pork in the oil to see if it’s ready. If it sizzles, it’s ready.
    sweet and sour pork (Tangsuyuk: 탕수육)
  10. Drop the pork pieces into the oil. Use tongs to split them apart if they stick to each other. Fry in batches if you need to, until they are crispy and turn light golden brown (5 to 7 minutes). There should be plenty of room in the skillet for them to fry without always touching each other.
    sweet and sour pork (Tangsuyuk: 탕수육)
  11. When done, transfer to a strainer set over a bowl to drain.

Make the sauce:
tangsuyuk_fruits

  1. Heat the 1 teaspoon of corn oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and carrot and stir-fry for 1 minute.
    sweet and sour pork-sauce
  2. Add the apple and stir-fry 1 minute.
  3. Add 3 cups of water, the sugar, the vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil.
  4. Stir the small bowl of starch water one last time before adding to the sauce. Stir it in with a wooden spoon. The sauce will thicken and shiny.
  5. Let it sizzle for a few minutes and then remove from the heat.

Serve:

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon vinegar in a small bowl, to use as a dipping sauce.
  2. Heat up the oil and fry the pork for the second and last time, until they are very crispy and golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes). You can crowd them in the skillet this time, but the color of the pork should be golden brown and shatteringly crisp. You should be able to feel the crispness through your tongs.
  3. Transfer to the strainer to drain, then put on a large plate.
    sweet and sour pork (Tangsuyuk: 탕수육)
    sweet and sour pork (Tangsuyuk: 탕수육)
  4. Reheat the sauce over medium high heat until it bubbles. Stir in the cucumber and pineapple for 1 minute. Add the sesame oil and stir for 10 seconds.
    sweet and sour pork-sauce
  5. Pour the sauce into a large bowl and serve on the side with the fried pork, allowing diner’s to dip their pork into the sauce as they eat. Alternatively you can pour the sauce over the pork and let everyone dig in. Whichever you choose, the soy sauce-based dipping sauce always goes on the side.
    sweet and sour pork (Tangsuyuk: 탕수육)
    sweet and sour pork (Tangsuyuk: 탕수육)

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140 Comments:

  1. Mong_v Asia joined 7/17
    Posted July 8th, 2017 at 8:44 am | # |

    Hello maangchi. If my pork is 700 grams is the sauce in this recipe enough for the 700g pork? Or should i adjust the ingredients amount. How do i adjust it? Thanks.

  2. c0lours Toronto, Canada joined 5/17
    Posted May 15th, 2017 at 10:10 pm | # |

    This recipe is amazing!! I could not believe I could make tangsooyuk just as good as the restaurants! I love all your deep fried party food recipes – tangsooyuk, kampoongi, dakangjung – I have tried them all! You have taught me the secret to crispy batter is potato starch! :) I also love your hoddeok recipe! The picture below is me making your tangooyuk and hoddeok :) Thank you Maanchi!!


    See full size image

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 16th, 2017 at 12:56 pm | # |

      Thank you for sharing the photo! Your hotteok and tangsuyuk look so delicious! I’m happy to hear that your cooking is going well!

  3. jsp73 joined 3/15
    Posted February 17th, 2017 at 9:57 pm | # |

    This one has my wife’s 100% approval rating, and I didn’t have to make ANY modifications (That’s rare … u know people from different hometowns often do things differently). Thank you!

  4. imzeff Indonesia joined 10/16
    Posted October 30th, 2016 at 6:20 am | # |

    Hi maangchi
    I’d like to try tangsuyuk for the first time but i think it will be hard to find potato starch here.
    If i substitute the potato starch with corn starch, will i need to do the soaking part too?

    Thank you maangchi ^^

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted October 30th, 2016 at 7:36 am | # |

      Yes, cornstarch will work well, too. Good luck!

  5. velveete United States joined 10/16
    Posted October 22nd, 2016 at 5:41 pm | # |

    Thank you for the recipe.

    Can I make this with chicken? Or is there another meat I can replace with pork?

  6. lalaine23 south korea joined 10/16
    Posted October 7th, 2016 at 9:13 am | # |

    Already i try this my in laws very like

  7. echang1123 Rochester joined 3/16
    Posted March 13th, 2016 at 11:41 pm | # |

    Hi maangchi, just like everything else, your recipe is fantastic. I’ve followed it twice, but one thing bothers me. I’m not sure if it’s the wood ear mushrooms or something else, but I end up with these solid pieces of goo in the sauce. When i compare mines to yours, I see that you don’t have that problem and the sauce is much more even and uniform. I’m quite sure i’ve followed everything exactly as you’ve said. So is it the starch water that you add at the end? Is it the wood ear mushrooms I’m using?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted March 14th, 2016 at 12:36 am | # |

      “I end up with these solid pieces of goo in the sauce.”
      Before adding the starch water to the boiling sauce, mix it with a spoon and pour it into the sauce slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon at the same time. If your sauce turns out too sticky, add less starch water.

      • echang1123 Rochester joined 3/16
        Posted March 14th, 2016 at 9:41 pm | # |

        Thanks for responding! I’ll let you know how it goes!

  8. Liz Maryland/Pennsylvania, USA joined 12/11
    Posted August 27th, 2015 at 12:01 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi! This recipe for Tangsuyuk looks really delicious. Have you ever heard of 김피탕? It stands for Kimchi-Pizza-Tangsuyuk. When I was studying in Korea it was a specialty of the area I was in (조치원, 연기, 충청도) so I ate it a lot with my Korean friends. It was the fried crispy pork in a spicy sauce (kind of similar to 떡볶이 sauce I think) with Kimchi and vegetables, topped with melted mozzarella cheese. 진짜 맛있다! I am still trying to make it at home, but with no success. Maybe I will have to return to Korea soon instead! Thank you for this recipe though, I’m glad I know how to make very crunchy pork now! 고맙습니다 망치님 <3

  9. Avinda joined 5/15
    Posted May 17th, 2015 at 6:50 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi
    I just want to ask, can I use rice vinegar instead of white/apple vinegar?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 18th, 2015 at 9:32 am | # |

      Yes, you can use rice vinegar, too. Good luck!

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